Trip, Interrupted

Clearfield, UT to Murray, UT

Mickey and me (and Kittyhawk)

After 56 days since setting out on this tour, it was a bit hard to believe that today would be my last riding day before getting on a plane to Philadelphia and then India. Just to confirm, it’s just my last riding day FOR NOW. The BIG plan is still to get to the Grand Canyon but I just need to go to India for a couple of weeks to scout out a new documentary project. Ok, now that that’s clarified, on with the update.

My night in the RV known as Kittyhawk was fantastic and I awoke very well rested. Not long after that I would be very well nourished thanks to a breakfast burrito courtesy of my host, Mickey. As for Mickey, she hadn’t been out on her bike for a while so she decided to join me on the first 25 km of my somewhat short remaining ride to Salt Lake City. Actually, my day’s destination was Murray – about 15 km (ish) south of Salt Lake City – as that’s where Joe and his wife, Christie, live. As you may recall, I met Joe (and a couple of his friends) at Devils Tower, WY at which point he offered to store my gear while I travelled to India. Very generous considering I had just met him.

As for today’s actual ride, much of it was on one trail … well, technically it was on a few different trails but since they all merged together seamlessly it seemed like one trail. Either way, it made for easy navigation and easy riding. There was one stop I wanted to make before making my way to Murray and that was to Saturday Cycles. I was alerted to its existence by my Warmshowers host Ken back in Rexburg, ID as a cycle shop that focuses a bit more on touring and commuting cyclists. That seemed like a good fit for me. Sadly, despite my successful efforts to stay on schedule for an arrival in Salt Lake City on August 12th, that plan didn’t work so well in coordinating a stop at Saturday Cycles. The reason? Today is Monday. And Saturday Cycles is closed Mondays (and Sundays). Sigh. So much for good timing. Oh well, I took a few photos to prove I stopped by and then continued on my way.

A not-70-minute train delay …

The rest of the ride was easy. There was one stop for a train but fortunately there wasn’t a 70 minute wait involved. I also made an impromptu stop at Costco for an ice cream sundae only to discover they didn’t have serve such a thing. I defaulted a few blocks back to Wendy’s for a Frosty which was a much more successful endeavour.

It was shortly after 4:00 PM when I arrived at Joe and Christie’s place. And that’s how I met Christie. Joe was still at work but Christie was super welcoming and friendly. She directed me to “my” room where I proceeded to unpack and repack my gear in preparation for my detour to India.

The plan is to use either Uber or Lyft to get to the airport tomorrow. I downloaded the app and registered earlier in the day for both options so hopefully it will work out better than my Airbnb experience – granted, it would be hard for it work out much worse. However, I won’t think such thoughts as I need to be at the airport somewhat early tomorrow morning. My flight is at 10:00, so I’ll aim to be there for 8:00. Fingers crossed.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 67.60 km
Ride time: 3:30:27
Average speed: 19.27 km/h
Maximum speed: 34.24 km/h

And now my pedalling officially takes a bit of a hiatus. As such, this seems like a good time to consult the spreadsheet for a few overall trip totals thus far.

Trip totals (not final):
Distance: 5, 035.11 km (3,128.67 mi)
Ride time: 232:25:58
Average speed: 21.66 km/h (13.46 mph)
Maximum speed: 70.87 km/h (44.04 mph) on the way to Columbus, MT
Maximum distance: 263.65 km (163.82 mi) from St. Joseph, MN to Moorhead, MN
Touring days: 56
Riding days: 51

I have no idea how much time I’ll have for updates while I’m in India but I’ll see what I can do. Instagram photos might be more likely. Either way, I’ll do my best.


The Tonight Dough

Brigham City, UT to Clearfield, UT

With the days and distance dwindling remarkably quickly, I woke this morning very much aware that I was just two days away from Salt Lake City. It’s a bit hard to believe how much ground has been covered in the past seven weeks. In many ways it seems like it was just yesterday that I was pedalling over the Bighorn Mountains … or looking for a close encounter at Devils Tower … or shooting hoops on a farm in Indiana … or, well … you get the idea.

Another early morning start

And speaking of yesterday, the longer than anticipated ride of 120 km that brought me to Brigham City meant today’s penultimate riding day before my India hiatus would be considerably shorter than originally planned. Not that it was ever intended to be a particularly long riding day but certainly longer than 60 km.

My destination for the day was to be Clearfield, UT and, as mentioned, it was only about 60 km away. And it was to be a mostly flat 60 km.Despite the short riding agenda for the day, I still hit the road early in an effort to avoid any headwinds that might be literally coming my way later in the day.

Between the early start, the short distance, and the generally flat terrain, today’s ride went by very quickly. The complete lack of urgency to the day’s ride also made for a very relaxing time on the bike. As one would expect, those are all good things but considering I couldn’t arrive at my Warmshowers host’s place before 4:00 PM, it also meant that I was going to have quite a bit of time to fill somewhere along the route.

The “somewhere” ended up being Clinton, UT. Just 10 km from Clearfield. A town with a Walmart, a sporting good store, and a park with a pavilion and picnic tables – as well as a lot of other things but those other things weren’t on my particular itinerary. And of those three things, the park was probably highest on my list of priorities.

With several hours to fill before ending my day in Clearfield, I figured a park with a sheltered picnic table area would be as good a spot as any to hang out, have something to eat, and get caught up on the once-again-behind blog writing. My original plan was actually to head to the library but with today being Sunday said library was closed.

My first stop for the day was at Walmart – not that I really NEEDED anything but it seemed like a good place to pass a bit of time and get a few snacks and such for the plane I would be boarding in a couple of days. It turns out it was also a good place to get a two-litre jug of chocolate milk which I deemed to be more practical than ice cream given the schedule of the day.

From Walmart I headed over to Big 5 Sporting Goods. I didn’t really NEED anything there either but I was considering getting some sort of collapsible duffle bag for my flight rather than using one of my panniers which aren’t all that ideal for non-pedalling travel. Unfortunately, they didn’t really have anything I deemed acceptable in the duffle bag department but in wandering around the store I ended up staring at a wall of shoes. At that moment, I didn’t think I was really in the market for a new pair of shoes but, as I stared at the variety of options hanging on the wall, that thought changed.

Even though my current pair of shoes were less than a couple of months old – I actually bought them the day before I set out on this tour – they were a very cheap pair of shoes and, well … they were very much a case of “you get what you pay for”. My shoes had served me reasonable well considering the price of them but they certainly weren’t designed for longevity – especially when you factor in the number of times said shoes were required to be the driving force behind putting tent stakes into the ground. The soles of those shoes never stood a chance.

As such, I found myself buying another pair of very cheap shoes. Yes, I realize they won’t last long either but the biggest problem with the more expensive shoes is the height of toe area. Because I use the older style toe clips on my bike (rather than clipping into my pedals), I need to wear shoes that actually fit into those toe clips. Since the higher priced/quality shoes typically have a more solid and thicker sole (i.e., a good thing), they’re essentially useless on my bike (i.e., a bad thing).

Lunch

With new shoes on my feet and two-litres of chocolate milk strapped to my bike, I headed off to the sheltered picnic tables of Powerline Park. I just happened to see said park as I perused Google Maps and the satellite view revealed the pavilion I was seeking. And yes, as you probably guessed, said park got its name as it sits under a wide series of power lines.

The next few hours were spent having lunch, updating my blog, and just hanging out. The actual posting of said blog entries would have to wait as there was no WiFi at the park but at least I was able to take care of the writing portion of the process.

By 3:30 PM, I was packing up again and ready to pedal the final 10 km to my day’s destination. And it was an easy 10 km. The route was easy as the vast majority of the ride was on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Rail Trail. A paved trail in great shape. And, with me heading south, it was also either flat or slightly downhill for most of it. The only unfortunate parts of the trail were the gates along the way at each street crossing. The gates are there to prevent people from using the trails with motorized vehicles or horses but it also makes it hard for cyclists to get into any sort of consistent pace as the gates required some caution (and speed reduction) to navigate through them. Fortunately, the further south I went, the larger the distance between said gates became.

Rail trail

On the upside (yet, VERY puzzling) was the fact that the prevailing winds from the south had once again yielded to a noticeable wind from the north. Somehow, I had a tailwind again. I was actually so surprised by the wind that I actually stopped to look at the map to make sure I was in fact heading in the right direction. I was.

I arrived at my day’s destination shortly after 4:00 PM and that’s when I met Brandon, my host for the night. Well, one of my hosts. Brandon’s wife, Mickey, was actually who I had contacted through Warmshowers.org but she was at work when I arrived. I would meet her later but Brandon was a great welcoming committee (well, if one person can be a committee).

Not surprisingly, Mickey and Brandon were great. Very welcoming. Super easy to talk with. Lots of interesting stories – including tales of RAGRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) with more than 20,000 riders! WAY too many for my liking but, at the same time, quite the event … this was the 47th year of the event. Mickey was even kind enough to offer me a can of Tailwind … the official beer of RAGBRAI (which I meant to take a photo of but, well … didn’t).

SO good. So very good.

As an extra bonus to end an already great day, there was ice cream. More specifically, Mickey presented me with a choice of one of five pints of Ben & Jerry’s flavours. While the choice wasn’t easy or to be taken lightly, I ended up going with the Jimmy Fallon branded flavour of “The Tonight Dough” which featured “Caramel & Chocolate Ice Creams with Chocolate Cookie Swirls & Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Peanut Butter Cookie Dough”. Yes, it was delicious. And despite the label indicating that each container contained four servings, it was a single serving container today. Calories be damned.

My sleeping quarters for the night was the 2006 Itasca Spirit RV (aka. Kittyhawk) parked in Mickey and Brandon’s driveway. I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with such vehicles and, since I’d only ever been in one a couple of times, I loved that it was to my accommodation for the night.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 56.95 km
Ride time: 2:46:14
Average speed: 20.55 km/h
Maximum speed: 37.27 km/h


First-World Fiascos

Devil Creek Reservoir, ID to Crystal Hot Springs, UT … or not.

An early start for me and my shadow

As a matter of clarification – or perhaps confusion – I just want to say that I really don’t know the name of last night’s wrong/right campground. Google shows the reservoir as “Devil Creek Reservoir”. The big sign at the entrance to the campground similarly reads, “Devil Creek RV Park”. However, the registration receipt for said campground reads, “Devils Creek RV Park”. The ACTUAL name remains a mystery.

Regardless of the name, I woke up around 3:00 AM to a howling wind. Admittedly, I was pretty groggy and there’s a chance I was dreaming said wind as it was something that was VERY much on my mind when I went to bed. The forecast was calling for winds from the south gusting into the mid-40 km/h range. And they were to start early in the day. In response, I hoped to get started even earlier in the day even though I suspected it might be in vain.

When I woke again at 5:30 AM, the wind didn’t seem excessively strong but my tent fly was definitely moving – not that it takes that much force to move a tent fly. It was upon getting out of my tent and started on the packing up process when I noticed the wind was at my back – as I faced south. I actually looked around to see if anyone else was around that could confirm what I was observing. Given the early hour, I was the only one. I could only assume I wasn’t imagining this unforeseen tailwind and I sped up the packing up process.

Sun showers

The speeding up of my frequently sluggish morning routine had me ready to roll by 6:30 AM. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. A few photos later and a stop to use the facilities, I was officially on the road just before 6:40 AM. Technically the sun had risen but it would be another hour before it would fully clear the mountains and start warming the day. That’s not to say it was a chilly morning. I’m just saying I was on the road early!

Once again, today was to be another somewhat short ride as I continued to pace myself for a Monday arrival in Salt Lake City. As such, my goal for today was Crystal Hot Springs RV Park and Campground – about 80 km to the south. However, the short ride wouldn’t preclude me from having another multiple milestone moment on the road. And it happened shortly after 8:00 AM.

It was at that time that I kind of wished I was on back on the interstate. Not being on the interstate didn’t affect the actual happening of the moment but the photo opportunities associated with said moment weren’t quite the same. Either way, shortly after 8:00 AM and about 22 miles into my ride I officially said goodbye to Idaho and hello to Utah (i.e., state #13 of the tour). The 22 miles is important because they officially put me over the 3,000 mile threshold for this tour (that’s a little over 4,800 km). Anyway, the only reason I would’ve liked to be on the interstate at that moment was that the “Welcome to Utah” sign was significantly more official looking than the one alongside the frontage road. Oh well. I can’t say that came as much of surprise. On the upside, I was able to see the “good” sign along the interstate … it was just too far away to make for a good photo.

Welcome to Utah


It’s no secret that my route to the Grand Canyon hasn’t been particularly direct. Case in point, to pedal directly from Kitchener, ON to this particular spot of the Idaho/Utah state line is actually only 2,000 miles. Thus far, I’ve managed to meander my way across an extra 1,000 miles of midwest states to get to Utah. Since that was part of the plan for this trip, I’m more than ok with that.

With my state line moment documented, I continued on towards Crystal Hot Springs which was still a few hours away. However, it was about 5 km before I got there that I made another stop. In some ways it seemed kind of silly to stop 5 km from my destination but it wasn’t even 11:00 AM yet and I figured that would be way too early to arrive at the campground. Just for clarification, it’s actually not JUST a campground. Apparently it’s sort of “resort-like” in that it also has a big pool and waterslide and other such fancy amenities available … for an extra fee, of course.

Deweyville Park

Anyway, as I was passing through the tiny town of Deweyville, I happened across Deweyville Park which featured picnic tables, a pavilion and a mountain backdrop. It seemed like a good place to stop for lunch. I was not alone in that thinking. As it turns out, there were a few people already there preparing for a class reunion – the Class of 64 to be specific. I can’t remember the name of the school … “Grace”-something, I think. Maybe it’s best I don’t remember. Anyway, I don’t think they liked me being there but, well … no one said anything. Actually, it was funny … when I asked if it was ok if I used one of the MANY picnic tables, one woman reluctantly gave me the ok. The only other person that said a word to me the entire time was a spouse of one of the “Class of 64” alumni. She seemed kind of bored with the whole reunion and likely figured she knew about the same number of people there as I did, so she asked where I was headed. We chatted briefly before I returned to my lunch and she returned to looking bored. I can’t say I blame her.

Unnecessary side note: It was kind of amusing during the various speeches when one person was describing a call she had with one of the absent graduates of the Class of 64. When she asked if he would attend, he replied, “Why would I come to one of those things? I can’t stand any of you people.” Not surprisingly there was an audible gasp from the crowd followed by a not-so-audible silent pause as they pondered the possibility that someone didn’t like them. A few comments were made as to the possible reason before the moderator concluded that “there’s obviously something personal there.” I found it interesting because they all seemed dismayed by the comment yet the woman who had actually been talking to the person didn’t take the opportunity to actually ask, “Why?” I kind of got the sense they preferred to live in their own little bubble. And the reunion carried on.

Moving on

Anyway, eventually I moved on down the road to Crystal Hot Springs where things really didn’t go as I had anticipated. Upon approaching the counter and being greeted by a trio of (likely) sub-20 year old girls, I was promptly informed that they didn’t have any sites available. The fact that I was travelling by bike didn’t matter. As the one girl said, “Our tent sites have been booked for almost two weeks now.” And it was said in such a way as if I should’ve known that. I suspected further conversation would’ve been an unnecessary waste of time and oxygen on my part. They clearly didn’t have a “No turn away” policy for hikers and bikers so I was going to need to find somewhere else to stay.

In all honesty, I didn’t REALLY mind moving on because I thought the $30 they were charging for a tent site was a bit ridiculous. And then when I saw the actual facilities I knew $30 was very much ridiculous. They were small, close together, and some even lacked a picnic table. Not that those things are critical but when you’re paying $30, well … I kind of think you should get something for it. Plus, for $30 I think there should at least be actual washrooms and not just porta-potties. I couldn’t help but think about what I had and what I paid last night at Devil Creek (or Devils Creek). Yes it’s true, yesterday there wasn’t a fancy pool and waterslide (both for an extra fee) available but I wasn’t looking for any of that. I just wanted a small chunk of land to put my tent for the night. And while the official tent sites may have been booked, there was still a LOT of empty green space that seemed available. Full disclosure, they DID say I could book one of the available RV sites but I would have to pay $50 or $60 for those. How generous.

With Crystal Hot Springs being a complete failure, I resumed my ride south. A quick search on my phone revealed the somewhat reasonably priced Camelot Inn in the town of Honeyville … a mere 3 km away. I had a new destination.

As would be expected from a 3 km ride, the ride to Honeyville was effortless and I was standing in front of the Camelot Inn right around 3:00 PM. Pretty much everything that happened after said arrival in Honeyville was very much the opposite of effortless.

Moving on, again

The Camelot Inn was actually a mini-hostel which was completely automated in terms of checking in. I was fine with that. I’ve used such self check-in systems before and quite liked them. There was a number I could call or text to check availability and they were quick to reply to my text. They confirmed a vacancy. However, because it was less than 48 hours in advance of my stay I needed to book through Airbnb. I’d never used Airbnb before but I’d heard good things. Actually, I TRIED to use it once before (during my 2015 tour) but the app wouldn’t let me book anything. I hadn’t tried again since.

My initial attempt to book through the app was more than a little unsuccessful. The next several attempts were met with the same failure. I then opted to abandon the app and book using their website. That had a matching success rate. Grrrrr. This was rapidly becoming a nuisance.

I ended up spending (i.e, wasting) about 30 minutes trying to make it work but to no avail. I finally conceded and called them. They had me uploading ID, changing passwords, updating my profile, adding payment methods. Again, to no avail. And after more than 57 minutes on the phone with Juan (located somewhere in South America), he pretty much gave up on me. And I on them.

Home sweet home. Well, for one night anyway.

It was still only 4:30 PM and I was a bit surprised to see that the next town, Brigham City, was less than 20 km away. I could do that. It was actually kind of the perfect distance under the circumstances. I figured an hour of pedalling would likely clear my mind of all the frustration that had built up over the previous couple of hours. Sure enough, it only took about fifteen minutes of pedalling for me to be singing the theme from The Littlest Hobo once again. Oh, and just to be clear, the hosts of the property known as Camelot Inn were actually very nice and responsive to my texts. They even gave me the WiFi password in an attempt to make the booking. The issues were all on Airbnb’s side.

After the silliness of witnessing the Class of 64 reunion, the fiasco that was Crystal Hot Springs, and the disaster that was Airbnb, I opted to just get a motel for the night. And things started to change for the better upon my arrival in Brigham City. As luck would have it, there was a Wendy’s a mere 1.2 km from my motel. I opted to check-in first and head to Wendy’s on an unloaded bike. And when I ordered what I believed was a well-deserved large Frosty I was only charged for a small. I pointed this out to the cashier who looked more than a little frustrated that he had done that. I said, “I won’t tell anyone.” He then proceeded to give me my change and a large Frosty.

From Wendy’s I travelled across the street for supper … well, supper to go. And perhaps audition for a future in pizza delivery. I know I’ve mentioned before how much I like my bungee net, but at times like this it really confirms it. Definitely in the top 5 of all my gear.

Pizza to go. Thanks bungee net!

I successfully returned to my motel room with pizza intact shortly after 6:00 PM to put an end to what was a much longer day on the road than anticipated. One consequence of my arrival in Brigham City is that I am now 25 km closer to tomorrow’s Warm Showers destination which means I should be in for a very short day tomorrow.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day – other than how difficult it was to NOT book with Airbnb – was the headwinds that never materialized. It was a very fortuitous surprise and one I didn’t take for granted.

It’s safe to say that today did not go according to plan. At all. And while it was certainly not a good day for staying on budget, it was still a fun day (well, type two fun anyway). Although, I can’t help but feel that my time in Utah has started out a bit like my first day in Montana. At least there was ice cream.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 119.29 km
Ride time: 5:11:40
Average speed: 22.96 km/h
Maximum speed: 57.97 km/h


© 2019: Mark's Midlife Crisis