July 22nd – The Big Rock Candy Mountains

Today was a traveling day. Our next destination was Las Vegas, a distance of nearly 500 miles. No longer was I so naive as to think of that as a 1 day ride, even though it wouldn’t even be that strenuous of a drive in a car. Today then would be one of my favorite kinds of rides. The kind with no particular destination. All I had to do was ride until I was too tired, then stop at the next inn. Since we’d already decided to sleep indoors, it wasn’t even a race to to the sundown.

By noon we had packed our camp and roared off down the highway. Utah’s highways were well paved and had frequent rest stops, much like Texas. Completely unlike New Mexico and Colorado. To be fair, our states are much flatter than theirs. I bet it’s hard to maintain mountain roads. The ride was long, and pretty boring. The roads were wide with high speed limits, and there were plenty of other vehicles on the road. Pretty sub-optimum riding conditions overall. At least the weather was nice. Though it was hot, the speed of the bike provided reprieve in the form of wind.

Disgusting though it is, sometimes we ate fast food on this journey. On traveling days, it’s just not realistic to unpack the bike enough to cook a meal for lunch. That could cost us up to 3 or 4 hours for a lunch stop. Today, we ended up at a Subway. I don’t know how they find ingredients this cheap and crappy, but they do manage to truck them out to some really remote nooks of the country. We choked down half a sandwich and got back on the road.

The road finally stopped shooting straight through desert, and turned to follow a lovely stream. Gianna swears she saw a sign indicating we were in the Big Rock Candy Mountains, but my focus was on the road, and I can’t confirm this. The air was much cooler here, and the road got somewhat interesting again. Perhaps an hour down this road we stopped at a rest stop to finish our lunch and smoke a little medicine to keep it down. The sun had begun it’s descent, so we’d probably stop within the next few towns.

We rolled into Orderville (population 596) around sunset, and stopped at the first motel we came to. The room was $40, and it came with wifi and plumbing. The lady managing the hotel seemed very friendly, and very excited about the recent room renovations. Some rooms were a little under construction still, but most had been converted into nifty theme rooms. Ours was wild west themed, featuring a washbasin shower, and large wagon wheels on the bed. It was very cute, though in the end, many of the unique furnishings proved difficult to maneuver around, or weren’t as functional as one would perhaps hope.

Off to a corner between the two main buildings of the motel was a picnic table we set up our camp stove on. As we finished preparing our mac and cheese another patron of the motel came up to make conversation. He was from Minnesota, and had been a victim of the recent bank foreclosures. He had an old 1940s greyhound bus, and a little cottage out in the woods. The recent dickishness of the banks has left him seeking more sustainable solutions. It was interesting getting to talk to someone from a totally different background as us seeking similar things in life. Traveling teaches you that the human experience is relatively universal, regardless of geography. We spent most of 3 hours talking with this guy, bitching about the banks, talking sustainability, poking fun at some of Utah’s more eccentric qualities.

We finally headed to bed fairly late, planning to finish the drive to Las Vegas the next day, taking the road that goes through Zion National Park. The day had been fairly pleasant, if relatively uneventful. A prototypical smooth traveling day.

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