Spring Break in Utah – Part 2

In Travel by Abhi3 Comments

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Part 1 of my little Utah trip covered days 1-3. Here’s part 2, which spans days 4-6, including Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Death Valley, and one of the weirdest theories about cancer you’ll ever hear.

I started Day 4 with this particularly fitting photo on the way to one of the famous local slot canyons.

You’re not allowed to go into the slot canyons without a Navajo guide – they’ve created a business for themselves and drive you out in lifted trucks through a large sandy wash.

Upper Antelope Canyon. It’s famous for light beams that shine through, but that only happens for a couple of hours a day. So before the beams started to appear, I took a close look at the canyon walls.

First bit of light starts peeking through

Sometimes the guides cheat and throw sand up in the air to make the beams more visible.

Or they’d throw sand onto this and create a ‘sandfall’

Light beam.

Made sure to look up before heading out.

I’ve been trying to get to the dirt loop in Monument Valley for years, so this was a personal highlight for me.

A panorama of one of my new favorite places.

The Cube!

Saw a couple of mountain goats climbing around one of the monuments.

Baby Jack beauty shot.

Impressive balancing act.

That’s a big rock.

Tip your guide!

Leaving the park floor – probably the best $5 I’ve ever spent. Road conditions were OK. Some minor rocky sections and two large sandy washes.

Making my way towards Mexican Hat for the night, I saw a scene that’s pretty well-known. Remember where it’s from?

Ta-da!

Got to Mexican Hat, the hotel manager recommended a restaurant called “Swinging Steaks”. It’s named for the novel way this guy cooks – apparently the kind of wood he uses is all flame, so he has to keep the food moving, and thus he constantly pushes it on a swing. He seemed pretty gruff, to the point that I felt shy about trying to sneak a photo of the grilling setup.

Then he noticed my helmet, and asked me if it was cold on the bike. This led to one of the awkwardest conversations I’ve had in a long time, where after finding out about my job and that I’m on spring break from classes, he said he was really pleased with the UCLA Medical Center for the way they treated his daughter who recently passed away from cancer. It only happened a few months ago, and I couldn’t seem to say anything besides “sorry” in varying forms.

Then he dropped his cancer theory on me: Everyone has cancer from birth, and it only comes to fruition if your body stops excreting it continuously. This was first discovered by the ancient Egyptians, who realized that cancer lives on after someone dies – and that’s why they created pyramids to hide cancer away from the rest of the world. Then, when humans dug up the pyramids, they re-released cancer back in the world.

Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. Had to show you guys this beer – Polgamy Porter. The slogan: “Why have just one?” I asked myself the same question.

The next morning, I went out to see Mexican Hat. There are multiple options to get to the hat in terms of dirt roads.

Eagle-eyed viewers may notice that someone made a tiny replica in the bottom right corner.

Goosenecks State Park

En route to Valley of the Gods.

Valley of the Gods.

Moki Dugway

The Dugway is a series of switchbacks that changes over 1000 feet in elevation over 3 miles. Parts of it also seem quite dangerous, as exampled by this truck.

Or this semi.

Valley of the Gods road from up on the Moki Dugway

Met two British tourists who apparently fly in every year to Vegas, rent Harleys, and then explore for a week or two. Cool chaps. They weren’t very happy about this road on the Harleys, though.

Natural Bridges Monument.

Another Baby Jack beauty shot.

Got gas in Ticaboo. When I went in to get some water, I was greeted by…nothing. Just what seemed to be an abandoned office. Nothing was on, but it looked like someone had been printing receipts before they just…left. Weird.

Yet another road I discovered thanks to ADVRider – the Burr Trail.

Lovely switchbacks on the Burr Trail

Hell’s Backbone

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish the Hell’s Backbone loop. Got turned around as the road turned into snow and mud. I had bought a local brew at my last gas stop to enjoy when I got to the top of the backbone. I figured I might as well enjoy it, even if I got turned back. So I used the snow for the one thing it was good for – refrigeration.

Entering Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon

Unfortunately, I was running behind schedule, so I caught the actual sunset outside of the park.

Last day of the trip, I decided to take a detour through Death Valley. First stop, Rhyolite.

Rhyolite now has some art scattered around. This is called The Last Supper.

This thing always makes me laugh.

Sentimental graffiti on a 60’s Impala.

House made of glass bottles, one of the few buildings kept intact after the town was abandoned. Restored by Paramount Pictures in 1925.

Detail of the wall.

Remains of the town bank.

Out of all the buildings here, the brothel is in the best condition. The front door is locked…

…but the back door is open. Ha. Here’s the oldest signature I could find.

My primary goal in going to DV was to see Titus Canyon. The only access is a one way dirt/gravel road from the eastern side of the park.

After 12 miles or so, you start getting into the mountains and an elevation of around 4000ft.

Before you get to the canyon, you’ll discover Leadfield. That’s some impressive advertising – though what’s even more impressive is that a town only lasted 6 months. Baby Jack has preferred words.

If I had to guess, it’s a late 20’s Model T?

One of the few remaining buildings…

…and one that wasn’t so lucky.

Finally – the opening to Titus Canyon

Normally, I can’t get this close to animals on the bike without spooking them, but this guy didn’t seem to care at all.

Titus Canyon

More of the canyon

Freedom! Oddly enough, the hardest part of the ride was right after you exit the canyon and get back to two-way traffic. The gravel gets deeper and looser.

Stovepipe Wells – the only known water source on the cross-valley road during the bonanza days of local mining towns. Sometimes sand would obscure the source, so a length of stovepipe was inserted as a marker.

Obligatory “Panamint Springs wants HOW MUCH for gas?” photo.

In the park, I met up with a KTM 640 rider who mentioned that there was a rally going on this weekend. I joined him for a drink while I tried to figure out if it was worth staying.

While we were sitting at the restaurant, a whole bunch of trucks came in with some beautiful bikes. Here was one of my favorites.

Leaving Death Valley.

From there it was just slabbing it back home. A general overview of the route:

Thanks for reading!

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