Motards in Moab 2010

Between the ugly cold winter we had and the stress and labour from renovating our house while living in it, we decided that we should have a winter break trip this year.  At first we contemplated Copper Canyon in Mexico, but that would not work out well with renovation or work schedules.  So, we decided to go to Moab in March!

To start things off, the WR250X needed some new lingerie…

A shock rebuild with a stiffer spring was in order, as was a steering damper.  The WRX handles really well on road, but that little front wheel can get a bit squirrelly off road at times.

Day 1: Saturday.
Calgary, AB to Idaho Falls, ID.
We got a good start from home Saturday morning and had a rather uneventful drive.

After checking estimated mileages, we chose to take the #2 south in Alberta & saw some very scenic, deserted snowy mountains rather than the boring #3 through Lethbridge.

The Sprinter ambled along quite well on the Interstate through parts of Montana & into Idaho.

It made a very comfortable and roomy travel vehicle.

We found an acceptable room at the Best Western in Idaho Falls, and had an excellent dinner just down the street at the Brownstone Brew Pub.

Day 2: Sunday.
Idaho Falls, ID to Moab, UT.

We chose to stick to the Interstate through Salt Lake City, there's a wide variety of "stuff" around Salt Lake City - including refineries.

This wind farm is along highway 6, not long after we turned off the Interstate just south of Provo.

Near Soldier Summit, UT you drive *through* the mountain & are greeted by a smoking coal mine - some coal seams are visible in the rock cliff by the highway.

We had a very late lunch at a Mexican place in Price, UT. & arrived in Moab around 5pm.  After checking into the Inca Inn & unloading the bikes we parked the Sprinter in their "gravel" back lot.  This was more of a rutted dried mud area - but we were happy to not have to reload the bikes each night to park.  We took the bikes for a short spin & were shocked to discover the Visitor's Centre open on a Sunday, in the *evening* at that.  We stopped & picked up a couple of maps.  After returning to the motel we walked to dinner at the Italian place down the street.  Tasty BBQ chicken pizza & a bottle of red wine.

Day 3: Monday.
We took a chilly morning walk to a very tasty breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe.

After suiting up & fuelling up, we headed out Kane Creek Road to see what we could find.

We found lots and lots of Red rocks stacked on top of each other!

This Jeep was meandering along at a nice slow pace.  We found all of the other vehicles we met/overtook to be very accommodating.  Those with four wheels knew that the bikes would be faster, and the bicyclists knew they'd rather not be in our dust as we slowed for them, so pretty much everyone pulled to the side to let us by.

116km & 8-1/4 hours later we had been through Hurrah Pass

to Chicken Corners & back with a couple of side trips thrown in for good measure.

Street tires behave well on slickrock.

We went a ways down the road to Lockheart Basin.  The road got somewhat rocky & KLRchickie dropped the XT trying to climb a rocky ledge too slowly.  It was the only dump of the trip - thank goodness for hand guards & the Renthal aluminum bars!  One slightly bent but perfectly useful brake lever, bent bar guard, signal light & license plate were the only casualties of the drop.  We chose to turn around there as the road just got more rocky & challenging.

We headed up to Jackson's Hole - but seem to have missed seeing the actual "hole".  We saw some other good views along the way, including wind carved statues in the cliffs and a rusty pipeline?

Here's a view of the salt plant that is up Potash road on the other side of the river.

A long & tiring day was topped off with a tasty dinner at McStiff's.

Day 4: Tuesday.
We decided to try the Moab Diner for breakfast - tasty green chile!  We made this day a little easier on ourselves since we've only just gotten on the bikes again after a long winter break.  This day was planned to be an easy trek up the highway and the loop to see the Gemini Bridges.  84 km, only 54 of them off-pavement. 

The view from the top of the climb near the highway. 

Very nice ride to Gemini Bridges.  A lot of it was on hard stone 'roads'.

We didn't hike to the bottom of Gemini Bridges, having no desire to walk that far in MX boots, but the views we saw were pretty impressive anyway.  Another time.

When people see us riding off-road with street tires they usually ask:
"How are they in Mud"?
to which we answer:
"About how you would expect!"
Then they ask:
"How are they in sand?"
We've never been able to answer that as we'd never been in sand.  Now we can finally give the answer:
Up to about 4"-6" of dry sand isn't too bad with the street tires, deeper than that and it becomes tough to keep forward momentum.  On the corners you give up a bit of traction, but it teaches you to be smooth if nothing else.  One becomes very thankful for a light bike and sturdy boots to dab with in sand.

An arch in the making.

We don't have Juniper *trees* with 6"+ diameter trunks at home!

We were keeping an eye on the sky.  A sudden rain storm out here could be disastrous, but the clouds seemed far enough away to keep exploring, so we headed into Bull Canyon.

More impressive views in Bull Canyon.

We found a tasty dinner at the Moab Brewery, complete with a "Logo glass" from the Derailleur Ale.

Day 5: Wednesday.
After breakfast at Zax cafe (try the Salmon omelet!), today we decided to head up Potash road to a portion of the White Rim trail to see the Musselman Arch & see if the Schaeffer Switchbacks were open.

Nope!  Head butting it won't make it tip over!

One small step for a man, one giant leap for Motard kind...

Motards in Moab!




Not far past the Thelma & Louise overlook (~50km from town) KLRchickie's bike decided to splutter & die just after a slightly rough downhill stretch.  The crappy toolkit that the bike comes with is surprisingly adequate for disassembling the bike far enough to check everything over, but the electrical gremlin stealing the spark before it could get to the spark plug could not be identified at the side of the road.  After some discussion, ZED returned to town on his bike (no passenger pegs anymore on either little bike & no desire to ride two up even if there were), loaded it in the back of the Sprinter, and headed back with it to see how far it could get on Potash Road.  The plan was to drive in as far as a 2WD cargo van could safely go, then unload the bike, ride the rest of the way, & tow the XT back to the van.

As luck would have it, the Sprinter (still wearing winter tires!) was able to make it all the way to KLRchickie & her bike & no towing maneuvers were required.

We had to take pictures of the Sprinter at the overlook to prove it was there, and a pickup stopped us when we were almost at the highway, incredulous to see *that* vehicle *there* & ask how far in we'd been.  With suitable tires this thing should be very capable.

View of the evaporation ponds from the salt plant.  They dye them blue to help with evaporation.

Back in town we realized we'd missed packing the meter, so picked up a cheap one at Radio Shack & proceeded to test things on the bike.  We were able to verify that several circuits were functioning correctly, but were not able to track down the problem in the parking lot.

We relaxed over dinner at the Mexican Restaurant across the parking lot from our room & discussed how to still enjoy our last day in the area.

Day 6: Thursday.
After a more boring breakfast, this morning included purchasing the Sprinter a new headlight bulb & the XT a new spark plug.  The spark plug didn't help the problem, unfortunately.  We decided to track down Fred Hink at Arrowhead Motorsports.  It was rather neat to see so much stock of parts for the KLR650 in one place - more than you can find in stock in the city of Calgary!  Fred also gave us a few more troubleshooting ideas for the XT's electrical problem, but no dice.

We decided to play tourist and check out Arches National Park.  Very impressive!

The rock formations in the area truly are amazing.

The short hike to the Delicate Arch viewpoint yields a pretty incredible view of things.

The day was still young when we were done with Arches, so we decided to check out Dead Horse Point.

Amazing view from the visitor's centre.

More amazing views from the lookout.  They look like painted backdrops in the pictures.

Looking down we saw Potash Road where we had been the day before.  We were able to identify the point (on the road just a bit to the right of the centre of this shot) where KLRchickie's bike broke down from above.

Very difficult to give it all a sense of scale.

Driving back into Moab we decided to try out the Sunset Grill.  The road up the mountainside is in terrible condition with lots of potholes, a little challenging with the bikes loaded in the back.

The view & the dinner were excellent.  We had no *bad* service at any restaurant in Moab, but this waitress was truly a professional.  The very best meal of the trip by far.  We definitely will return on our next trip to Moab.

We made sure all of our luggage was packed in the Sprinter ready to leave town Friday morning.

Day 7: Friday.
We had one last breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe & headed to Albuquerque via Four Corners.  ZED had made a deal with someone in Albuquerque to purchase a set of used Sprinter rims for our summer tires.  Travel costs included, we got 5 rims for less than half of what we would have paid in Canada!

We encountered blizzard conditions in both NE Arizona & NW New Mexico, but never had the chance to discover if this weather was normal for the area & time of year - or if we could have avoided the weather by taking that left turn at Albukoikey!?

After discovering that the monument at Four Corners was closed for construction (this is typical of our type of luck) we headed through more blizzard conditions to arrive late in the afternoon in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque.

Finding a real restaurant with parking AND a table available on a Friday night required a bit of driving, and we had to stop to take pictures of this adobe house we encountered on the way.  People actually live in these!

Our other best dinner of the trip.  Delicious Mexican food at La Casita Cafe. 

We met the seller of the rims & got them packed into our already rather full little Sprinter.

Day 8: Saturday.
After an excellent breakfast at the Range cafe, we retraced our path out of Bernalillo, took a slightly different route around the Four Corners area through a snowy corner of Colorado, and back through Moab & Salt Lake City to Pocatello.  We stopped for a tasty Steak dinner in the greater Salt Lake area & found a room in Pocatello about 11pm.

Day 9: Sunday.
We retraced our path through northern Idaho & Montana, choosing to skirt Glacier National Park again.

A lot of snow had melted since our passage the previous weekend, though we did drive through some windy snowstorms getting into Southern Alberta.

Back home in Southern Alberta.  Remind us again why we live here?!

General Observations from the Trip:
- Don't buy beer in Utah!  It is legally limited to 3.2% alcohol.  We learned that Corona packages a separate product for sale in states with this legislation.
- Everywhere we ate in Utah & New Mexico had excellent, *fast* service, the food was cooked faster than one considers possible.  Once back into Idaho it went back to what we'd consider "normal".  Still good service, but not nearly so fast.
- The Inca Inn is an excellent place to stay.  The room was scrupulously clean (maybe a smidge small for two people & a whole schwack of motorcycle gear, but that was hardly their fault) & the staff swept & scrubbed inside & out daily.
- The Sprinter makes a great road trip vehicle.  It drives well, is comfortable, and takes cargo with ease while getting great mileage.
- Moab Rocks!  We will be back!  We are seriously considering making this trip an annual end of winter excursion.