Tuesday Day 12 - June 24

We awoke on Tuesday and were greeted by the rocky banks of the San Juan river, not visible to us when we pulled in late the night before. The rock mesa had been trimmed out to fit the hotel on the bank of the San Juan. When I opened the bathroom window, the rock face was bout 5 feet away! We left the room ready to get out and hit dessert, well, after breakfast of course. We each had the huge breakfast burrito in the San Juan Inn restaurant, way too much food, but too good to leave.
Our day's ride began south twenty miles to the famous monument valley in Arizona. We decided to take a dirt road into the valley and it turned into the finest sand I have ever seen -- it was like talcum powder. There was just enough hard rock surface showing through in places to lull you into a false sense of security before the next sand wash would swing the front wheel wildly left and right. At one point the V-Strom was buried in sand up to the axle, real wheel spinning wildly with Jeff just managing to dog paddle the bike throught the sand.
This is just about the point when Don said "We're going to run out of gas out here ... and die." The GPS had been indicating that we were on a paved road for some time, but no such luck. We continued on toward Airport Road (as indicated on the GPS) thinking surely the road would become paved by then and we could exit the valley through the other side. Nope. We eventually turned around and tried to retrace our tracks back out but the sand was too fine to have maintained traceable tracks. We found out way to a paved road by just heading sort of in the direction the main hiway should be, the sand roads we were traveling did not match up with the indicated roads on the GPS.
We headed the twenty miles back north to check out Valley of the gods, back in Utah. The rock formations are more spectacular here with the "fins" being so thin as to look like needles from some angles. For a 6mb movie showing a 360 degree view of one point in Valley of the Gods, click here.

We rode a 17 (or so) mile loop around the valley and ended up overlooking Glen Canyon. As you can see in the stitched together photo below the canyon is simply spectacular encompassing what I think is Goosenecks State Park and the path of the San Jaun river. The wind was so bad it blew my leather jacket off the bike and I had to chase it down. The wind was actually blowing my jacket along the ground. The canyon was gorgeous but I was very glad to get down off the mesa.

A quick stop in Mexican Hat on the way through found us dining at a gas station on trail mix and water and soon We were tracking north toward Moab, still soaking up the strange Utah terrain along Hwy 191. The rock formations in Utah differed from what we had seen so far because of the remoteness of some of the structures. Some of these "mesas" jutted up out of the scrub brush miles from anything else. They looked like rock cliffs that had been sectioned off and distributed along the highway.
About a hour and a half south of Moab we came to a giant arch off the right side of the road. Yes, those are people standing in the arch. Jeff and I decided to hike up the cliffs and check out the arch first hand. It was huge. The next shot is of Don and our bikes from up in the arch! Off to the right is and an interesting couple we chatted with after climbing down from the arch. They are the two people pictured in the giant arch photo. The guy was your average fifty year old Goldwing rider, accompanied by a lean and scantily clad bobybuilding woman of probably the same age. As if her sports bra and spadex mini-shorts were insufficient testament he remarked several times on her superior strength. They were nice folks and referred us to the Aarchway motel on the north end of Moab. Although their recommmendations for the best cornering roads in the four corners area were suspect (even though he was an ex-R1 rider) their motel recommendations turned out the be great.
Having been riding late and doing laundry after that the night before I was just about done. It had been a wonderful day of riding in Monument Valley, Valley of the gods, and up to Moab so I decided to stop off at the motel and check us in around 6:30 while Don and Jeff rode on through town toward Arches National Park, about 10-20 miles north of Moab. The photos below show how foreign the terrain is in Arches. What is stragne is that there are so many different kinds of formations and colors of dirt and rock. I'll cover Arches a little more later, As Jeff took pity on me and rode back out there with me the next day.
After my long luxurious shower in the very large hotel room Don and Jeff returned form Arches and we set about making dinner plans. We ended up at Eddie McStiffs for their home brewed beer and good food from a widely varied menu. If only the service has been as good. The room proved to be one of the best we'd had on the trip, boasting two double beds and a comfortable sleeper sofa, with plenty of room for all our gear even with the sofa bed unfolded. A late night dip in the hot tub just before was just what the doctor ordered.