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Published: October 21st 2009
Its now so hot by lunch time that even I have to take a siesta. Its regularly reaches 40 by mid-afternoon, so hot you have to drive along with the visor down or its like someone blowing a hot hair-drier in your face.
Have another 300+ mile day to get from Moab down to Mesa Verde. Are still travelling through red rocky canyons interspersed with flat green plains. We never take the direct route and find two mountain ranges to cross en-route; the Red Mountain Pass, 11018ft and the Molas Pass, 10910ft through the San Juan mountains. From here the air is so clear that you can allegedly see for 170 miles - the longest sight distance in north america!! The scenery up in these mountains is very alpine with pine trees, flower meadows and quaint villages clinging to the hillsides.
At Mesa Verde we have to climb through the hairpins right up to the top of the Mesa. The journey is made more interesting by the road works especially the nice new tarmac road which suddenly turns into un-graded dirt the second you enter a pitch black tunnel filled with clouds of dust- this made for a few
Molas pass - 10910ft
can you see for 170miles?
interesting wobbles but at least we stayed upright. On the top are open plains and deep canyons where the ancient people (550-1300AD) lived in cliff dwelling which literally cling to the sides of the cliffs. We had to climb 100ft down vertical ladders to go and see them.
After the culture at Mesa Verde its time to head to Arizona for more amazing scenery. Take a brief detour to the Four Corners Monument just so we can stand in 4 states in one go - Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. In our usual manner of not going anywhere by the direct route we head out across the desert to get to a stretch of road called the Moki Dugway. Why? Because its a gravel road that descends 1100 feet in 3 miles round numerous hairpin bends. Then at the bottom there's a gravel road going through the Valley of the Gods - with similar rock formations to Monument Valley but without the crowds.
For some unknown reason the boys through it would be a good idea to do a naked ride along part of the gravel road in the Valley of the Gods - sounds dodgy to
me, just think of the damage the gravel could do if someone fell off, plus its over 40C so there is potential for serious sunburn. Last night there were a dozen or so who were going to join in but somehow, even through the whole group set off together at the top of the Moki Dugway, when we got to the designated spot in the Valley of the Gods there was only Edwin and Kevin. Even they though about not going through with it as there was only 2 of them but then I pointed out that I had sacrificed going to Natural Bridges National Park so they could be here partaking in the naked ride. A quick look was exchanged between them and they decided it was probably best if they got on and did it. From the top of a small mound we scouted for traffic and when the route was clear they both set of fwearing only boots, crash helmets and gloves (those of a sensitive disposition should not look at the photos below!). All was going well until the car that had just disappeared off into the distance decided to turn round and come back -
we could see it all form the top of the mound, the car was going faster then the riders and they could see the dust cloud catching up with them but there was nowhere to hide. They loitered behind a very small bush as the car when past with the occupants happily waving to them.
Next stop is sunrise at Monument Valley - very spectacular, lots of big red buttes and monoliths rising out of the desert looking just like all the photos you have seen of them only bigger and better. Then a quick 200 miles across flat plains with the occasional wacky rock formation appearing out of nowhere and through canyons with great names (Lees Ferry, Vermilion Cliffs, Marble Canyon) to get us to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was incredibly hot crossing the plains with no shade to shelter under - well over 40C.
Grand Canyon north rim was predictable spectacular - again its not possible to describe the vistas adequately or take photos the capture when we actually saw.
That's really the end of our exploration in North America. Tomorrow we ride 450miles across the desert to Tucson where the
bike will get a well deserved service and our bottoms will get a well earned rest.
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