June 29th, 2016 – Arches National Park, Utah to…Arches National Park, Utah ~ 0 miles.
Missed Day 12? We finally hide another toy and get our first taste of Arches National Park.
Today was supposed to involve a pleasant day trip of Arches. But as we pulled into the line to show our visitors pass and enter the park, I noticed that the ABS warning lights were flashing. Odd. It didn’t take much of a visual inspection to realize that we were kind of screwed. After about 14 years and 80,000 miles, the rear brake line had picked today to fail. As you probably know, a brake line isn’t exactly something you can patch – and because my GS is equipped with servo brakes, flushing the system is a pain in the ass. I busted out my copy of the BMW Anonymous Book and called a couple of locals. The closest BMW mechanic was about 110 miles east, and I had no interest in towing the bike out there. One of the nice gentlemen who answered my call suggested an independent dirt bike shop in town, so I thought I’d check them out and see if they had any brake lines which miraculously might fit.
As you can probably guess, the dirt bike shop didn’t have anything even close to what the GS needed. The shop was called Moab Powersports, and it’s run by a sweet lady named Doricca. Her two sons are the mechanics, so it’s what you’d call a family-run business. I had an interesting conversation with her that eventually meandered into how dirt bike guys can be macho and hate getting advice from a lady – she’s got many tales of predicting a problem, only to be told by a customer that she must be wrong. Her and her son that was the main mechanic seemed understanding of my plight at first and made some time to try and see if any brake lines they had in stock could potentially work, though we didn’t have any luck.
There were a couple of auto parts shops in town as well so I walked over to them in another Hail Mary attempt. Vy stayed at the shop while I desperately tried to figure out a solution. Over the next hour or so, I frustratingly failed to solve the problem while Vy stayed at the shop and killed some time. She apparently hung out with the shop dog, who is a bit of an explorer:
I don’t remember the dog’s name, but here he is next to the closest brake line I could find. The length wasn’t bad but the bend of the banjo bolt didn’t work.
The little guy apparently liked my jacket:
I called my mechanic back in Los Angeles because he’s always able to figure things out. After we discussed some options, he said he’d overnight me a part that was a line that was close enough, and then I’d replace it with the correct part when I got back home. That was the best option I had, so I thanked him kindly and then Vy and I decided to explore the town of Moab a bit. A strawberry milkshake at lunch helped pick up my spirits. Vy also kept a pretty good attitude about the whole thing, which I have to appreciate. For long trips like this I always try to have an extra day of buffer just in case, and there are definitely worse places to be stuck for 24 hours!
Knowing that we’d have to stay another day, and that our motel was a couple of miles from the shop, I kept the GS and hoped that I could time stop lights well enough that I wouldn’t have to use the brake. Brilliant plan! We explained the situation to Doricca and she said she’d be waiting for the line to come in the mail. We’d return the GS in the morning and when the part came in she’d call me and have her son get started on the fix.
Vy and I rode a couple of miles back to the Bowen Motel and got another room. Then I tried to rent a car so Vy and I could still at least explore Arches. Of course, because we were at a popular national park, everything from the normal rental places was sold out. I was ready to trade places with this guy:
During the day, I had noticed a couple of companies that rented modified Jeeps. I figured they’d be pricey but at this point I was desperate. The two main options in the area are Twisted Jeeps and Canyonlands Jeep and Car Rentals. Twisted Jeeps had some impressively modified rigs built to tackle trails, but they wanted $245/day for a 2 door (add $50 for a 4 door). On the other hand, Canyonlands had much more sedate Jeeps (though they still had a 2.5 inch lift and larger tires) for $50 less. I have no prior 4-wheel off-road experience so I wasn’t planning on doing anything crazy, and I figured I’d save a few bucks. They normally just do day rentals so you have to pick up the Jeep first thing in the morning and then return it by 6pm. After I explained my situation, they kindly let me come at the end of the day and grab a Jeep that had been returned early. So I picked up a 2 door Wrangler around 4pm, and they gave me the night for free! The paperwork was easy and the rental guide was knowledgeable about local trails. She recommended a trail for tomorrow and I thanked her tremendously for giving me a free evening with the vehicle. Vy and I took the opportunity to rush back to the park and get a short hike in. Obviously, Baby Jack joined us as well. His short legs proved to be an issue in the deep sand:
We went to the end of pavement in the park for a hike of Devils Garden, despite a constant light drizzle. Devils Garden is a hiking loop that features 8 major arches. The highlight for me was Landscape Arch:
Landscape Arch is the longest arch in the park and the fifth longest natural arch in the world. Since 1991, three slabs have fallen off so the trail that used to go underneath the arch has been closed off to the public – this is the closest you’re allowed to get.
It’s fairly obvious where Tunnel Arch gets its name from, though you’re not able to get very close to it at all.
Pine Tree Arch was one of my favorites because you could actually walk through it. This is the back side of the arch (with respect to where the trail ends) and there’s plenty of room to act like a kid and explore.
We got back to the start of the trail and hopped in the Jeep. Unlike most National Parks, Arches has a dirt trail that you can use as an alternate exit. I was hoping to try it on the GS but because that was no longer feasible we decided to get a little taste of it in the Jeep.
The sad face of someone who would rather be riding his GS off pavement:
Once you get far enough away from pavement, you’re greeted with this sign:
The drizzle from earlier made some of the terrain a little soft, but I was having a blast reading lines and goofing around off-road.
We weren’t going to be able to finish the trail before it got too dark, so we turned around and made our way back to the motel.
I could get used to off-road exploration without worrying about balance!
I came pretty close to running over a toad. I thought it was a rock when we first drove by it, and it wasn’t fazed at all.
Tomorrow we’d get some real Jeeping in, and I was excited to give it a shot.