The Hogback - Escalante - 9/19/2006

This morning, I had a very nice breakfast at the lodge down the street (the housing that we couldn't afford last night).  Dave basically didn't want to pay for a nice breakfast so he opted to go to the convenience/general store in town to have a boring breakfast.  Fine with me.  I just sat there and had a very nice peaceful breakfast.  While waiting for him to return, bought a pair of earrings at the gift shop - small blue and green turquoise design.

Here's a picture of Boulder valley where we were last night.  Notice if I'm able to take a picture of a valley, that means I had to have climbed out of it!

Here's Dave reenacting climbing this hill.  Notice we're on the wrong side of the street because we're taking fake reenacted pictures.

Today, still on the Scenic Byway 12, we did lots of climbing.  Some, notice the key word here is "some", of the downhills were not as scary and I didn't use my brakes as much because the road would curve uphill so gravity slowed me down.  Here's some more scenery of the sandstone country.

What's wrong with this picture?

Yes, the road is that scary and curvy that even the sign warning motorists to slow down was hit.  I mean, how fast and out of control are you going to hit a street sign on the side of the road?  In case you can't read the sign, it says, "steep grades.  sharp curves.  next 4 miles.  25 mph."

We were approaching what is known as "The Hogback".  Again, straight from the Scenic Byway 12 website:  Scenic Byway 12 climbs Haymaker Bench and crosses The Hogback—a ridge with steep dropoffs on both sides. The road is very narrow at the top. Stop at a pullout to take in the sweeping views of the surrounding sandstone country before continuing to Boulder.  The website is written in the viewpoint of someone going West to East (that's why it mentions "continuing to Boulder" - where we were last night).

Do you see the sheer dropoffs of the road?  Better be able to handle the bike and not make wide turns!

Oh God!  I've never seen a truck downhill sign at 14% in my life.  I bet most drivers haven't seen this as well.

Take a deep breath is right.  I was really nervous at this point.  I seriously was saying a quiet little prayer to any God that was listening.  Please take care of me.

Well, I made it.  I remember using a lot of brakes.  I'm pretty sure I took up the entire lane to go downhill.  I don't remember if there was a car behind me or not.  Regardless, it has been my experience that most cars are understanding that cyclists need the entire lane to go down steep curvy roads.  I've never really had an angry driver behind me on a steep downhill.  Besides, the cars really shouldn't be going faster than a cyclist, anyway, because regardless if your mode of transportation is 30 pounds or 2 tons, there's no need to go faster than the posted recommended speed limit on a steep curvy downhill.

Once we got past the Hogback, more uphill...  It's cute.  Along the road, this one RV is parked on the shoulder, there are lawn chairs out, and the owners are just sitting there, soaking in the views sipping tea.  They asked us if we wanted any as we passed them going uphill, but we were okay at this point on food and water.  I just love it how people are so kind to each other.

Here we are at a vista point.  The story leading up to this is really funny.  As I mentioned (or in case you haven't figure it out), there was lots of climbing today.  If cars are revving their engines to go up these hills, they could imagine how we were on our two legs.  Getting to this vista point was a really, really long uphill.  Of course Dave got there before me.  He must have told the tourists hanging out at the top what we were doing.  Because by the time I got to the top, I literally had a cheering section of about 5-10 tourists just standing there, cheering and clapping.  It was so nice.

Isn't it interesting how yesterday was that national forest with all the green and today it's getting back to the reds?

After more climbing, here I am having a Zen moment at another vista point.  I was just sitting her soaking in the view, eating the plums and applies I bought yesterday.  Can you see the road below that we climbed up?

A group of French tourists took this picture for Dave and me.  Here's some background info and a funny story leading up to this picture.  Throughout the trip, when Dave and I wanted to say something privately to each other but within close proximity of others, we would just do a big smile, with all our teeth showing, and try to talk with the big smile, kind of like a ventriloquist.  When I spotted a big group of French tourists standing around parlez-vousing their French and eating really good snacks like their bread and cheese and whatever else the French eat (and their women don't get fat), I did my ventriloquist speak to Dave to go over and strike up a conversation (in French - Dave speaks a few languages) in hopes of them offering us some goodies.  En Francaise, Dave shoots the bull with them, telling them of our trip, answers questions and such.  However, no snacks were ever offered at the end of the exchange, just the offer to take our picture.  Oh well, we tried.  Hehe.

After all the climbing today, we were rewarded with a slight downhill into our destination town of Escalante.  We had lunch at a roadside snack shack type of place.  After lunch/snack, I went around town finding a motel.  Dave, on the other hand, went scouring the town for alternative housing.  Remember, we're in Utah and the place is riddled with Morons and Moron churches.  Not trying to rattle any feathers here but this is our observation - the Morons are not as "friendly" or "open" as the other churches.  Morons do not really get along with the other denominations.  Anytime we've knocked on a church door in the past, the pastor welcomed us with open arms.  The Moron church rarely opened their doors, literally; probably because instead of a little town church, the Moron church was always the biggest building in town and no one was there.  When and if we ever made contact with someone inside, the answer was always no.

Anyhow, after I found a suitable motel, I told Dave.  But of course he really wants alternative housing.  So, I told him I'll be at the library and he can come get me if/when he finds alternative housing.  After a while and no luck with the official church, Dave gets me because he found us a family to stay with.  The family is, of course, Moron.  The older couple offered us their trailer (trailer is in the backyard of their house).  Anyhow, having said what I said about the Moron church, all I was trying to say is that our observation is the Church on a whole is not as welcoming, but individuals can't/shouldn't be lumped together with the group they are affiliated with, are just regular people and they continue to be welcoming.

After we dropped off our stuff inside the trailer, we rode our bikes to the Escalante State Park.  Before getting to the park, we stopped at the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument park ranger area so I could get a stamp for my national parks passport book.  To be honest, I don't know what the Grand Staircase is/are.  We think it's just the whole area and because of the mountain carvings, it looks like a big set of staircase.

Back to the Escalante State Park.  There, we did some hiking to get to the petrified wood area.  Petrified wood is fossil wood that has been buried underground and because of the lack of oxygen, the tree/wood itself turns into minerals, while still keeping it's tree shape.  How cool is that?

Dave stroking the wood.  "Hehe, she said 'wood.'"  God, why do I feel like I'm in the Beavis and Butthead Do America movie where they also visit a petrified wood forest?

How amazing is this?

Reading the park information, it is rumored that if you take any of the petrified wood, you are cursed with bad luck.  There are letters posted of people who after returning the wood to the park, their luck turned around.  Not only do I not want bad luck, you're never supposed to remove things from nature and parks so it can last for many generations to come.  Come on, people.

Here's a view of the reservoir from our hiking location.

After our hike, we had dinner at a quaint cafe/restaurant.  I think the restaurant was literally someone's house because the dining area was in what appeared to be the living room and the dining room.  I think the kitchen was just a regular house kitchen.  I remember the bathroom being a full bath with the fancy old fashioned 4 legged tub.  There was a staircase to the upstairs that was roped off.  I don't remember what we had but I do remember it was good home cooking type of food, but with a nicer twist.  Although all the guests were at their own table, everyone pretty much just mingled with each other.  Was nice.

I finally got back to the trailer after dark.  It was like 8pm or so and I was really afraid our hosts would be getting ready for bed.  Luckily they were still up and I was able to take a shower in their house.  While I was getting clean, Dave must have had a pre-arranged appointment to speak to the pastor of the Moron church.  I remember going out after my shower in the very cold (with wet hair under my winter hat) trying to find a pay phone to use to check in with family.  Unsuccessful at making the phone call, I headed back home where I saw Dave standing outside the church talking to the pastor.  I don't remember what Dave told me about their conversation, but I'm sure Dave drilled the pastor on why the Moron church doesn't seem to get along with the other churches.

Going to sleep, I got a little seasick.  The trailer was not as secure on the ground so I could feel every movement of Dave from the other room (I was in the bedroom of the trailer and Dave was in the living room).  I guess I eventually got to sleep, though.