Monday, November 23, 2009
It's great to be home again!
Just outside of town, I was able to find a nice place to pull off the road and camp in my Ford van for the night. It will be another cold night, I'm affraid!
This is an amazing place. The rock formations are incredible. I stayed last night at the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab, and it was the perfect place to stay. They had nice showers, and the price was very reasonable. I went to the grocery store and bought a "you bake" pizza. It was great!
This is Landscape Arch ... one of the longest natural arches in the world.
Later in the day, I took a group hike to the Firey Furnace area, and it was a great thing to do. We hiked for about 3 hours, and I was amazed by the narrow passages and arches along the way!
Earlier in the morning, I met another hiker by the name of Jason, from California. He invited me to camp in his campsite, and another hiker by the name of Clay also camped there. It was a great evening by the campfire, enjoying chocolate chip cookies!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Before I forget, I want to put in a plug for a great web site for bikers called "www.warmshowers.org" . This is a site where people sign up to host bikers, and they have over 10,000 members all over the world. You can also read stories from world cyclists. I've used this site to find a host, and I'm also a member that will host other bikers when I'm at home. Check it out, and if you like a bike riders, sign up to be a host. Oh yeah, IT'S FREE!
Today, I'm thinking about going to Slick Rock to mountain bike, but I'm a little worried that it's too much of a challenge for my skill level. If it gets too bad, I'll just walk! Hopefully, I'll have some good pictures to post later!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I took a little hike today near Arches National Park. The canyon trail was called the Courthouse Trail.
I didn't get started until late in the day, and the trail wasn't very well marked. I could have hiked further, but there was a point on the trail when I should have crossed the stream. I didn't cross, but followed a trail that stayed on the near side, and I could only go about 1 mile before the trail ended as a sheer cliff wall fell into the creek below. I wish there would have been a sign saying to cross the creek, but I just decided to hike back out at that point. I think I hiked about 5 miles total, or maybe just a little more. It was beautiful, and I'm looking forward to going back to Arches National Park tomorrow or the next day.
This is a great little town. There are a ton of restaurants and bike rental / ATV rental / Jeep Rental shops and tour guides.
I was told that this is the slow season, although I think the weather is perfect for hiking. The trailhead had one other car, and I didn't see a single person on the trail.
There is also some great Mountain Biking Trails near here, so I'm planning on checking that out, too.
I'd like to be back to Salt Lake by the weekend, so I can spend a few days here, seeing the sites and exploring. I took all these photos with my cell phone. I'm pretty happy with the way they are turning out. At some point, I'll need to get another Canon Camera, but for now, these are just fine.
Monday, November 16, 2009
But first, back to my story ... when I got out of John's truck, I was at a rest stop in Iowa, not quite to Des Moines. It was cold and a little windy, but there was a lot of traffic, and I didn't think I would have too difficult of a time getting rides ... NOT THE CASE!
After trying for a long time, I decided it was time to head on down the road. This wasn't easy because I had my bike, my backpack, and my large yellow duffel bag that fits in my trailer. If I had my trailer, it wouldn't be so bad, but without the trailer, I have to balance my duffel bag on my handlebars. It's a challenge, to say the least.
I made it to the next exit and tried to hitch-hike there, but still no luck. There was a small town about 3 miles away on a side road, so I headed that direction. In the back of my mind, I thought that I might try to buy a cheap car rather than waiting for rides. I went to a Chevrolet dealer, but they really didn't have anything. They sent me to another small auto lot, and I looked at a Ford Explorer for $1,285 ... a lot more than I wanted to pay, but I was kinda stuck there. I was headed to the bank to get the cash while Jim, the salesman, tried to find the key. He searched all over and couldn't find it. I took that as a sign that it wasn't the right thing to do.
So, I'm off on my bike again!
Along Highway 6 though this part of Iowa is a fantastic bike trail called the Raccoon River Valley Bike Trail, and it goes about 56 miles. I rode for about 20 miles until it started to get dark. I know that it's impossible to get a ride after dark, and the trail is fairly remote, passing farms and pastures, so I decided to try hitch-hiking again.
To my surprise, I actually got 4 rides that night, all the way to Omaha, Nebraska.
Nebraska ... what can I say? It is NOT very friendly for hitch-hikers! Nor for bike riders for that matter! Early the next morning, I tried to hitch again at the I-80 on-ramp near a bunch of gas stations and truck stops. I sat there for a very long time, but no one would stop. There were plenty of pick-up trucks, but no one willing to pick up a guy and a bike sitting along side the road with a sign that read "North Platte". Back on the bike, riding.
I worked my way about 15 miles to Highway 6, a nice route that runs parallel to I-80 through several states, and even though there was a lot of room to pull over, no one would give me a ride! I had pick-up up a newspaper at the McDonald's Restaurant where I had my breakfast, and there was a 1990 Ford van listed for $800. Not quite the $500 I wanted to spend, but at least I'd be back on my way again. I called the number, and the owner was willing to come and pick me up, even though it was about 20 minutes away.
My new van is a real beater! I'm too embarrassed to post a picture of it! It starts, it runs, the tires aren't too bad, but it sure does use the oil. I can't tell if it's burning it or just leaking it, but I have to add at least 2 quarts with each fill up!
Made it all the way to Denver last night, and there was snow in Denver! Today, I've continued on to the mountain town of Vail, Colorado. (I'm up-dating my blog from the Vail Public Library!) It is so amazing here right now. About 12" of new snow fell over the weekend, but today the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue! All the green trees are covered in white snow! It's very cold today, maybe about 25 degrees or so, but I really love it here!
There are a lot of hotels and resorts here. The main downtown area is all foot traffic only ... cars are banned! I wish more towns had the same policy. In fact, the buses are free to ride, so you really don't need a car here in Vail.
I should make it to Salt Lake City by tomorrow to get my bike trailer and the rest of my gear, then I'll be heading South towards Tucson, AZ. I think I'll stop at the Grand Canyon on my way. If there's not too much snow, I'll try to do some hiking there.
I'll up-date my blog again from Tucson. Stay tuned! Happy Trails, everyone!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I was back in Sisters, working at the ACE Hardware Store when I was offered a job with a trucking company in Des Moines, Iowa. Since I wanted to have my bicycle with me, I set out with my bike and trailer for Iowa in late October. On the way, though, I received an e-mail from CR England in Salt Lake City. They seemed to have a pretty good thing going, so in route to Des Moines, I stopped in Salt Lake City to check them out.
They offered me a 2-week paid training, both in the classroom and out in a truck with a trainer. The 4 days in the class went very well, and they even provided dorm style housing at no cost! Then I got matched up with a trainer named John Fenty from New York City. He was a good trainer, except he was on his cell phone all the time. I had a difficult time hearing him because he spoke very soft, he has a New York accent, and the truck makes a lot of noise (from the road). Often, I thought he was talking to me or asking me a question when actually he was on his phone talking to one of his friends or to his wife back home.
For the most part, I thought I was doing OK. I still have a difficult time with the shifting (It's a 8-speed). Once on a slight downgrade, I had it in 7th gear when I should have had it in 8th gear. I tried to shift into 8th, but because of the turck's governor set at 62 mph, and my speed at the time was about 68 mph, I wasn't able to shift into 8th gear until I slowed back down. This is called "coasting," and you have less control of your vehicle when it is not in gear. John got really upset with me for coasting.
Later, while we were driving in Chicago at night, I missed a turn. I was trying to follow the instructions from the GPS, making sure I was shifting properly, and making sure I wasn't running over a curb or another vehicle. John flew off the handle at me and said that I wasn't paying attention, yet he was on his cell phone rather than helping me with the turn-by-turn directions.
At that point, he asked me to pull over and he took over driving. He also just stopped talking to me. I didn't feel very safe being in his truck any more, being he wasn't talking to me, so the next morning while we were in Iowa headed for Colorado, I decided to get out of the truck and find my own way home.
John was really up-set at me now! But in the end, the experience showed me what this company was like, and I didn't want any part of it. I'm SO GLAD that I hadn't signed a 6-month lease for a truck like they wanted me to.
Now I had to find a way to get my bike and duffel bag back to Salt Lake City, and I need to find a job somewhere ... stay tuned!