Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

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Some days are diamonds, some days are stone..

Today was a stone.  Although it was sunny and clear and nice when I left Craig at 7am this morning, as I headed west on US-40 towards Vernal, Utah, I could see dark clouds on the horizon right in my path. At the small town of Dinosaur, CO, right on the state line, I stopped to pull out the rain gear and put it where it would be handy just in case.  At the small gas station I inquired as to what the weather was up the road, and a nice lady said it was dry and overcast, but that started a debate inside the station as to the forecast.  So I put on a warmer shirt, stacked the rain gear at the top of the bag and headed off towards Vernal.  It's a long, lonely stretch of road, like many of the roads in the west.  You can see for miles, and the road seems to disappear off into the horizon. In this case a horizon with gray and black clouds.

In Vernal, I turned right onto US-141 and headed up towards Flaming Gorge and into Wyoming.  My plan was to head past the lake, and then go into Wyoming towards Mountain View, and up towards Kemmerer and onto Jackson or even West Yellowstone today.  However nature had other plans.  As I climbed up the mountain outside of Vernal, the clouds looked ominous and dark, so I pulled off to put on both the rain gear and the heated gear.  I was glad I did because it got quite cool.  Then the rain came -- first light sprinkles and then steady rain, as I wound down the mountain on numerous hairpin and U turns.  I was not a happy guy. 

I went through the small town of Manila, UT, I saw one small motel and one gas station, and the road to Wyoming.  I turned up and the wind started to howl and the rain pelted my exposed face.  At the turnout for the state-line I stopped to get a face mask, and I looked up the road into darkness and low visibility.  I truck came up and rolled down his window and said that it was snowing now a half mile up the road all the way to Evanston, and I still had 40 miles to go to the next town.   At that point I decided to turn around and head back to Manila and check on the weather and decide what to do.  At the one open gas station I went in and the clerk was kind enough to call ahead and check on the weather.  It was snowing to the west of me, and starting to snow to the east, and really raining in Manila now.  Normally I am not the kind of a guy to turn back, whether on the road or in life -- once I've made a decision, chosen a road or a path, I stick to it and deal with what comes ahead -- but in this case I didn't have much of a choice. 

I decided to head back to Vernal and stay there tonite, so up the mountain I went again in the wind and rain cursing every mile.  Shortly after leaving my electrical heated gear stopped working too, so I was turning into a wet, cold, angry biker, shivering and being very cautious on the road.  Then it started to snow.  It didn't stick, but it was snowing.  On May21st.  And two days ago I was in Las Vegas and it was 107!  Now I'm frozen, wet, and getting snowed on.  It took me a good two hours to slowly get back to Vernal.    Once I crossed the mountain and started down the other side, it warmed up a bit and stopped raining/snowing so the last 20 miles were bearable.

Vernal is in the far NE corner of Utah, underneath Wyoming and next to Colorado.  It is close to Dinosaur National Monument.  The entire town has made a living being "Dino" kitch for years.  As one enters town one is greeted by a giant pink dinosaur of some sort, complete with false eyelashes! 

The first motel I rolled up to had no room, as did the second.  However the clerk there was kind enough to take pitty on a wet cold shivering biker and call all the other hotels in town to see if anyone had room.  NO ONE DID!  I was in shock.  There is apparently some sort of oil industry gathering this week.  However the new Holiday Inn Express did have a room, for $220 a night (more than I paid in Las Vegas at a fancy resort!)  Well I had no choice, I had to get out of the wet clothes and dry off and warm up, and I couldn't take any more time on the bike today with the weather.  

As if that wasn't bad enough, the hotel Internet access isn't working, my Verizon wireless card isn't working since there is no coverage out here, AND the hotel laundry room first gave me bleach instead of soap, the washer ate .75, and then proceeded to not work at all.  I had some strong words with the manager on duty who apologized and got my laundry going, but could do nothing about the Internet.  So here I sit in a nice little Internet cafe working on this post before heading back to the hotel.

So tomorrow we'll just pretend that today didn't happen at all, and I'll recalculate my route staying south to stay out of the storms predicted for the next two days and try to get back to Seattle as quick as I can.  I'd hoped to be back by Friday but that is highly doubtful at this point as I still have over 1500 miles to go.  I only made 140 miles today towards home, but ended up with 376 on the bike given the backtracking.

Now off to find some dinner -- no doubt something with a dinosaur theme -- hopefully not as old or with scales.


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