Bryce, UT to Ely, NV
Song of the Day: Get Behind the Mule – Tom Waits
Left Cannonville (where I stayed, near Bryce) and headed up to the turnoff to the town of Bryce to get gas. I decided to go ahead and take advantage of a nearby breakfast buffet at the Best Western. The place was full of folks from afar – I mostly picked out Japanese and French in the discussions going on around me. The buffet was ‘so-so’ but worked. I moved on.
There is a cool little area called ‘Red Canyon’ just west of Bryce and I stopped there to take a picture or two. Then on through Panguich which is a really nice little town where I caught Utah 20 to head west. From there on out it was typical high desert – sage brush, small passes and valleys/basins. This is also when I noticed something that I’ve been looking at for the last couple of days – Utah’s state highway shield. Texas, Oklahoma and Nevada all use the shape of their state as the background design on their state highway signs. This is a bit odd for Oklahoma since, with the panhandle, they have to make the state kinda small to fit on the sign from left to right. Oregon uses a very simple three pointed
circle thing. In Oregon we don’t feel the need to dress up our state highway signs. New Mexico has a fancy red sun symbol as a background. And then there is Utah – a beehive. Yes, that’s right, it is a beehive. I have no idea why; I did not see a single bee in my travels across Utah, but those bee’s must be pretty important.
Once on the beehive-20 I crossed a couple small passes and then jumped on to I 15 northbound for a few miles to Beaver, where I would again head west. The speed limit on I 15 out there is 80 so there isn’t much need to exceed the limit, 80 is a pretty good clip, but just for good measure there is a car waiting at the top of the pass just before Beaver with a beehive on the door and a light bar on top patiently waiting. I wonder if the Utah state police cars have out of the ordinary performance enhancements. You must have to go like hell to catch up to someone doing near triple digits or more.
I jumped off at Beaver, gassed up, and headed west. Went through a small town and then up over this little pass and before me stretched out a sizable valley with the road stretching straight across. As I started to descend into the valley the wind hit me from the left; some of the strongest cross-winds I’ve ever ridden in. The winds out there are more consistent than the ones in the canyons the day before so, while a menace, they weren’t quite as unnerving. In these basins, typically the wind will be strongest coming down into the valley and then going back up the other side with a reduction of intensity in the middle of the valley. When you get to the top of a rise or small pass and you get ready to start down the other side, the road often cuts through a small hill before opening up into the next valley. That’s when you hunker down and get ready because as soon as you clear that mound the wind is gonna smack you good. The first time it caught me off guard and freaked me out a little.
Anyway…after what seemed like forever I finally reached the other side of the first valley/basin. Toward the top the wind backed off and I stopped to relax for a minute and then moved on. And then, just as I started down the other side another almost identical valley lay before me. I’m pretty sure I cussed out loud. At the bottom of the second valley I hit road construction. They were putting down chip-seal which meant fresh packed gravel for about five miles. With the cross wind and the 40 MPH speed limit it was a long five miles. I actually rode it at 50 because 40 was just too slow. On a bike in a crosswind a certain amount of speed is necessary to keep the bike stable. On pavement my bike seems to be happiest at around 60 in a strong crosswind which is what I ran most of the day even though the posted limit was 70.
After that valley and the end of the gravel there was another valley and another. Some days on a motorcycle are just gonna be a haul. At least it wasn’t raining. These roads are very sparsely traveled. After I left I 15 at Minersville I decided to start counting cars for the heck of it. Between there and Baker, 96 miles, I passed 4 cars, two trucks, one RV and two dead cattle. That isn’t counting the folks and equipment doing road construction. At some point I went through a little town where I slowed to check out an old building and two dogs came after me in front of an oncoming truck, that was interesting. After what ended up being a pretty long day I finally approached Ely, which is pronounced EeeeLeee. Folks there will correct you if you get it wrong ;). It is a nice little town, nicer than I expected out there.