Day 5: Bluff, UT to Moab, UT

Tuesday 9/13

Ever meet a stranger at a bar, go home with him/her, and then wake up the next morning only to be slightly alarmed at what you resorted to? Me neither, but I suspect the feeling you get is not unlike how we felt when daylight cast its harsh light on our “cabin.”

Don’t get me wrong: I was delighted to find this port in the storm. I was just a little surprised that they could consistently extract $80 from travellers for this oversized tool shed (this particular shed held two units). Then again, it’s on the way to Monument Valley so location is king.

The inside was no more charming with its cold white cinder block walls, but at least the lodging fulfilled two very important requirements: 1) It didn’t stink and 2) It didn’t make me itch.

Really, I’m glad it was there, but I probably won’t ever need to drop in again…although if it gets sold and they spruce it up with a paint job, I’ll reconsider. I did like the protective stable for our horses.

We left Bluff and made the hour-long trip to Monticello, where we stopped for breakfast. Just outside of the diner we saw ourselves in motorless form. Two guys were travelling by bicycle and had pitched camp on the far end of the parking lot. People think that travelling by motorcycle is tough, but I personally tip my hat to cyclists. They have all the challenges that we do, and on top of it they still have to pedal, no matter how shot their legs are.

We were once again faced with the issue of bringing Simon into a restaurant. This time we didn’t bother asking if it was ok — I just put the backpack on the seat next to me. The waitress took our order and never even noticed Simon, who was silent (I also did my best to hold my menu in a way that would block her view). Simon can get a little vocal if we make him sit and watch us eat, so I slipped him little pieces of my pancake at regular intervals to secure his silence.

After breakfast we picked up the TAT on the north end of Monticello. It was exciting to finally get on the trail we had been preparing so long for. The initial stretch was wide dirt roads through farm lands.

Not sure where the owner of this was, but it was worth a picture. It definitely wasn’t loaded down for the TAT.

At one of our bio breaks we wanted to see if Simon could be defeated by a cattle guard so we left him on one side while we went to the other. At first we thought maybe he was the stupidest Jack Russell Terrier ever, but it became evident he was fixated on the ground below. When he was done with his investigating, he finally stepped his way to us. Dogs: 1, Cows: 0.

We started into the Manti-La Sal National Forest, where we’d encounter the first of a recurring theme: cows (yes, the very ones who are also fooled by painted stripes!). Simon took exception to how slowly these two moved and had an extensive barking session to air his disgust; his head and neck were sticking out as far as it could through the porthole. Wayne’s main animal concern was deer, as one had already jumped in front of him and they only missed colliding because the trajectory was just off.

There was a light rain at about 10,000 feet so we put on our rain gear. At about 8,000 feet the rain stopped and in another couple thousand feet the temperature had gone from kinda cold to uncomfortably hot. As we stopped to strip off our rain gear, a group of riders came by. I think they were with Butler Maps and were doing some filming as well as map research.

When we arrived in Moab we got a camp site at Slick Rock RV park and then headed over to Moab Powersports to get tires we had purchased in advance. They started working on our bikes as soon as we got there. Yes, we could’ve changed them ourselves, but four tires were just enough of a pain in the ass that we were glad to pay someone else to do them.

Simon, surly from having been trapped in a backpack for several days, took it out on Jake, the shop mascot, with a solid left hook.

After the tires were on, we returned to the RV park to set up camp. It’s about this time into the trip when the days start to blend into each other. It hasn’t even been a week yet and I can no longer tell what day it is. Sunday? Wednesday? Friday? I suppose it’s not really important, but it just feels somewhat disconcerting, like everyone in the world knows something I don’t. I’m just going to have to get used to it.

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Day 5 overview: 162 miles

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