Rocky Mountain States
Four weeks in the VW micro
how time flies when you are in a coma....and spending five weeks in the veedub, 5,500 miles of mountain, desert, more mountians and desert, kind of makes one appreciate the mountains....and desert. I had left Vancouver in the last week of September, just after my 50th birthday with the knowledge that I was not going to have to do anything more than sightsee for a very long time..long in the terminoligy of a working stiff.
I had a self-described photo project to do at a rest area in Eastern Oregon, on what is left of the Oregon Trail. This is a highway rest stop, Weatherby, in what is known as Burnt Canyon, about 50 miles east of Baker City. While part Oregon Trail in the late 1800's and early 1900's, Burnt Canyon was a miserable piece of work..taking days to traverse the river at the foot of the hills and then to have to grind their way back up the other side. Overturned wagons, teams of oxen dragged and household goods scattered. Not a place that one mentions with fondness. And yet, the records show that more than 300,00 people came over that trail in the forty years of it's existance, heading for the west from St. Louis. I had been through the rest area in years past and had suddenly thought of the neatness of that rest stop still being used by travellors. I recieved permission from Oregon D.O.T. and spent 2 full days there, photographing people and recording their story...where they were going. and why's.
So...down the road and feeling bored, I am on my way east to the western part of Nebraska for a birthday party and cake, hey..it's good cake....anyway, I hang a fast left off one Interstate onto another and wind up in a terrible wind storm that followed me for three days...geeeez....do you know how Interstates came to be? At the outbreak of the second world war, there was not a proper road system that crossed the U.S., allowing for fast convying of war material in case of an invasion..so they built the Interstate's. Anyway...I fought wind all through Wyoming...pushed me right past Jackson Hole...what a sad place, for me. I have read so much about this place, who lived there and wrote there and I wanted it to be just them and me...wrongo...the whole world is well represented there. All the big clothing names, coffee names, name names....just a name place instead of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I stopped to get gas and was be told that I had to go to a 'proper' RV place....something I don't do.....bye bye Jackson Hole.
Alliance, Nebraska....truly the midwestern heartland of the U.S. Leftover from the 50's...rush hour is a two car line-up at the pump. Dales...an eatery that was hot in the 60's and still is. Staff are still wearing the long outfit with bobby sox and this is for real, not a Jackson Hole 'name' place. Just real nice people. One of those places where people don't lock the doors and everyone knows everyone. The stockcar track oval over on the east part of town and football and basketball at the highschool rules...all the local radio stations do play-by-play's...that's all there is on the am dial, at night in the US in the fall. This is harvest time for sugar beets and the tractors and trucks go all day and night. If not sugar beets, then it's corn or beans..it's farm country. Big people, big hearts..and Carhenge......http://www.carhenge.com/...hahahahha......check it out on the web....draws people from anywhere...as a project, created an exact replica of Stonehenge..using cars. Too funny.....
I am picking up a date in Denver, flying from Vancouver. Someone to keep me warm on those cold nights...that and and spend 10 days tripping about the Moab and Lake Powell area. We motor over to Hite Marina on Lake Powell, not thinking that if we didn't buy some wine in Moab, we weren't going to have any. This is Utah...Morman counrty...so, wineless and whining, we have plans to spend 6 days or so kayaking on Lake Powell. A mighty wind has come up and it's even raining...and after waiting a couple of days at Farely Canyon, we reshape the big plan and head a bit further south....over the Mokee Dugway and down into the Valley of the Gods...where we..ok ok...' I ' got stuck and needed a four wheel to get us out. We overnighted at the Goosenecks in southern Utah...next day went over to Chinle, in Arizona, on the Navajo Reserve, next to Canyon de chille...(de shay)....spiritual home of the Navajo, breathtaking views from the canyon rim and open to exploration, tho you have to hire a guide or go with the tourist herds. Never been?....go.
We have trekked back to Lake Powell, unload and set up the kayak once again at Farely Canyon and lo...no wind. A fabulous day...and we are off for three days. We have some good laughs and a glorious camp at White Canyon...just around the corner..this is an inside joke..you wanna know, write me....no wine, tho....the area's we have been in?..dry...however, we are about to make up for that. I find too, that all the info that I have found for Lake Powell is geared towards power boating. Kayaking is not a big thing here and there are some hazards that are not mentioned. One of them being the wind...this is a huge lake, actually a resevoir...more than 180 miles long and very narrow, with many sections of the shore inaccessible. It is easy to find yourself on the lake and no place to get off in the event of weather....and that happens more than I had thought. Talking to people that use the water a lot...it is both beautiful and really ugly, at times. The wind can be just wild and there have been more than a couple houseboats lost over the years. Also, we find that just with the level of the water very low at this time of year, many of the nice looking beaches are in fact major mud/clay banks. This takes some of the fun out of stopping for lunch and presents challenges for setting camp. We made out fine, but people need to be made more aware than are, presently.
ahhhhhhh...we make it to the state likker store in Moab, Utah...get two reds, zip across the street for another reward, a night in a motel. Hot running water, actual bed, what's this switch one the wall?...LIGHTS!!!......out for a great burger and beer at Eddie McStiff's....and back for a swim in the pool and hotub...and collapse. Till 2:40 in the bloody morning, when the smoke alarm on the 14 foot vaulted cieling decides it needs a new battery...screeeepp.......screeeeep.....every three minutes. No ladder in the building, clerk says we can sleep next door..in a suite, yet...and in the morning, in discussion with supervisor person, who is so very condesending....and finally offers to take fourteen dollars off the bill....like, I am impressed? oh...the Gonzo Inn Motel...nice enough, but not real caring.
My kayaking partner splits for Denver on a Greyhound out of Green River, Utah, saving me a three day drive..thank you, Sandra, thank you. She flies back to Vancouver and I remain in Moab...but not at the Gonzo, in the veedub, here and there. Taking lots of magic pictures of canyons and walls of red slickrock. Maob...center of the mountain bike world....and that really scary rock climbing stuff...where they go straight up, using their fingers?..(shudder).
It's time...weather report says rain and maybe some snow for the weekend....I scramble for the highway north, grinding out of Moab, through Green River, end of one highway, begin another...maybe I should go to Vegas?...nahh....turn right towards Salt Lake City. Funny thing happens here, as I drive through in the late am rush..the US Army has just unleased a 'harmless' gas over the city...testing it's ability to track gases in case of a terrorist attack during the Winter Olympics...well, ****....I have done SOOO much to look after my health..and now I am under a gas cloud....of course, it's harmless....right......I hate Salt Lake City.
There's a hot spring on the Oregon/Idaho border, just outside of Ontario..so I decide to spend a Saturday there, rather than drive. Good idea....and the following couple of days I meander towards the west...Burns, Bend and finally the home of Bootsnall.com, in Eugene, Oregon. I had written ahead and the sidewalk had been swept...the veedub was parked right in the middle of the parking area, as per instructions. Introductions made....vw inspected, and soon after...beers. The lads put up with me for a couple of days, we ate, had some beer and wine.... trolled the U of O campus. I was awarded the coveted hat and t-shirt...you have to LEAVE before they give it to you. I wonder if there is a message there?
I do some visiting in Seattle and fianlly, four weeks and 4 days later, I cross back into Canada. Home.
[ 07-08-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]
Westy's and Folbot...made for each other